Message from the Chair
Happy 2023….and a renewed chance to move that needle on climate and environmental justice. Since the official launch of Democrats Abroad ECCC one year ago, we have accomplished a lot, both within our organization with your support and through the Biden administration with the help of Congress. Federal funds are now being allocated to local governments and to states and tribes to help with electrification, weatherization, and renewable energy infrastructure.
Though much was accomplished in 2022 legislatively in favor of climate change mitigation and our transition toward a fossil fuel-free economy, continued progress will be difficult with a GOP-controlled House. We will continue our fight to stop fossil fuel subsidies and new fossil fuel infrastructure, to push for biodiversity protection, a Windfall Profits Tax, and recognition of the Climate Emergency. Our recourse lies in federal agencies, state legislatures, local initiatives, and executive emergency powers. Environmental activists around the country are calling for the President to use his executive powers to declare a Climate Emergency.
Please sign our Democrats Abroad Petition to the White House to declare a Climate Emergency!
We will continue organizing globally to ensure that climate voters like you are informed and have a voice in this existential issue of our time in 2023, 2024, and beyond. Thank you all for your engagement, support, and inspiration this first year of our Council!
Chair, DA Environment & Climate Crisis Council
Undoubtedly, wind turbines are an essential key to our fossil fuel-free future. Nonetheless, there are a number of challenges to solve in achieving their sustainability, making wind turbine blades a unique example of the good, bad, and nerdy. To make solar, wind, and other renewable power sources fully sustainable, you have to consider every phase, from siting to production to end-of-life disposal. About 85% of a modern wind turbine’s component materials (steel, copper wire, electronics, and gearing) are recyclable or reusable. Its blades – usually three 50- to 80-m-long blades made of fiberglass and carbon girders bonded between painted fiberglass shells and protected by an epoxy resin – are the rub. This combination of different materials and the blades’ strength makes their separation for the recovery of workable glass fibers physically and chemically challenging. The blades’ weight and length also make transporting them complicated.
Why not cut the blades into pieces on-site, you might ask? Although feasible, this doesn’t solve all the transportation and recycling problems and calls for enormous – and expensive – vehicle-mounted wire saws or diamond-wire saws similar to those used in quarries. The vast majority of blades reaching the end of use are consequently either stored in various places or taken to landfills (although they account for only a tiny fraction of U.S. municipal solid waste).
Various companies have taken up the challenge:Read more
The trajectory towards a 100% renewable energy future has been thwarted by the vested interests in the old, entrenched energy and industrial system and veiled in cloaks of climate denialism and technological nihilism. Our progress, therefore, towards achieving a peaceful coexistence with our planet falters. We feel helpless when confronted with the full power of Mother Nature’s revenge as the climate crisis burns, blows, floods, and roasts us with increasing intensity. The cloak of denial and ignorance falls off as more people wake up to the real urgency we are facing. Seven percent emissions reductions every year to avoid the worst is a daunting challenge. Is there any way to buy a little time while we revamp our energy system? Are there any shortcuts or quick reductions we can grasp that are win-win and won’t arouse political backfire from the fossil fuels industries?
Methane emissions reductions may well be that strategy. Methane is our second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2). While less abundant, it has a far greater Global Warming Potential (GWP) than CO2, more than eighty times more potent over a twenty-year period. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that half of the 1.0° C net rise in global average temperature since the dawn of the industrial era is due to methane increases. Also, methane is short-lived in the atmosphere, lasting only about ten years. Efforts to stop it from entering the atmosphere, therefore, coupled with its natural degradation, could afford a powerful lever to slow global warming.
Co₂nsequences: ECCC December Newsletter
Message from the Chair
Wishing all of you a holiday season filled with gratitude and love…for one another and for the beautiful planet on which we reside.
As we assess the tectonic year of 2022, we observe both tragedy and progress apportioned to our world and country. Record-breaking climate events have littered the planet, from the cataclysmic floods covering 1/3 of Pakistan to severe heat waves, fires, and droughts across China, Europe, and Africa, and extreme hurricanes/typhoons in the U.S. and parts of Asia. And sadly, little was achieved at COP27 to help us limit temperature rise to the 1.5C goal.
On the promising side, consensus for a fund for Loss & Damage was reached last minute at COP27 in Egypt, and a Biodiversity Fund was established at COP15 in Montreal. In the U.S., the Biden administration passed the Inflation Reduction Act, with $370 billion earmarked for climate change mitigation, ratified the Kigali Amendment, moved to electrify the postal service fleet, and established the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights.
American publicly and privately subsidized research has born exciting breakthroughs in fusion technology, which promise to help decarbonize energy in decades to come, advancements in green hydrogen, with hopes of decarbonizing air travel, and progress in renewable energy storage.
In the U.S. midterms, Democrats actually grew the Senate majority with the final runoff victory of Rev. Warnock in Georgia. We defied historical trends by only narrowly losing the house and achieved trifecta victories in several key states.
We also celebrate this month’s landmark biodiversity agreement in Montreal, ’30 by 30’, promising to protect the globe’s frail remaining ecosystems, which is key to stopping climate change. Neither the climate crisis nor biodiversity loss will be successfully resolved unless tackled in tandem. The threat of mass extinction of plant and animal species led 195 nations to agree to protect and restore at least 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030. Rich nations shall pay roughly $30 billion annually by 2030 through a fund created under the Global Environment Facility.
As we close the circle on 2022 and mobilize for another round of political and environmental engagement, remember that healing and regenerating our planet starts with each of us. Please care for yourself as you help care for this planet.
Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season,
Chair, DA Environment & Climate Crisis Council
The ECCC had a lively discussion on the arts and climate activism in our December Climate Cafe. The most effective way to move our fellow humans is often through art and narrative, not just words and shouting. Let's explore how music, prose, film, graphic art, etc., can expose the human condition and change hearts and actions.
Watch our panel discussion on the multi-award-winning documentary, Youth v Gov, now streaming on Netflix. We welcome filmmaker Christi Cooper, who paints a remarkable portrait of the young Americans suing the government to protect their constitutional rights to a stable climate, Philip Gregory, acting as co-lead counsel on the case, and Nathan Baring, one of the brave youth plaintiffs. YOUTH v GOV is the story of the Juliana v. The United States of America constitutional lawsuit and the 21 American youths, ages 14 to 25, who are taking on the world’s most powerful government. Since 2015, the legal non-profit, Our Children’s Trust, has been representing these youth in their landmark case against the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal safety, and property through their willful actions in creating the climate crisis they will inherit.
Watch on Netflix https://www.netflix.com/watch/81586492
Co₂nsequences: ECCC November Newsletter
Message from the Chair
November has been a month of hope, success, and disappointment, both with the U.S. midterms and the results of COP27. It is also the month of thanksgiving, so we give thanks to all of you and the progress we have made.
In the U.S. midterms, Democrats have retained and may even grow the majority in the Senate next month with the Georgia run-off. Democrats have also defied historical trends by only narrowly losing the house, but there will be consequences. Republican leadership has already signaled the elimination of the climate crisis committee. U.S. support of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP27 and the adaption of language to phase down fossil fuels will certainly be political dynamite, as well, for the Biden administration in the hands of a Republican House.
Regionally, there are points of light. Republicans in historically conservative states that once resisted the clean-energy movement are now competing for these factories. Voters across New York state approved a $4.2 billion environmental bond measure in the midterms to bolster climate mitigation and land preservation projects. And a number of states have newly elected trifecta Democratic leadership ready to support environmental justice initiatives and forge our transition to a zero carbon economy.
On a global level, negotiations at COP27 in Egypt ended with a historic deal that resets the relationship between rich and poor countries by establishing a fund for “loss and damage”. U.S. and EU negotiators stepped up heroically in a last-minute, overtime deal. Nonetheless, on measures to phase down oil and gas and increase funding for adaptation, COP27 delivered little progress. The world's path leads to upwards of 1.5C warming, a critical threshold for avoiding catastrophic climate disruptions. Sam Goodman, reporting from Egypt, has graciously submitted an overview in this month’s featured article, ‘COP27: 1.5 is Dead, and the Fund is Alive’.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres concluded the conference with, ”Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address. A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert.” Democrats and the Biden administration have made a small step forward in this mission, but we must join hands to save this planet together.
Dana Freling - Chair, Environment & Climate Crisis CouncilRead more
Submitted by Sam Goodman - A New York voter living in Costa Rica.
This year’s U.N. climate negotiations in Egypt (COP 27) yielded mixed results as nations worked to build on the agreement reached in Glasgow last year. The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan offered a historic breakthrough on the issue of loss and damage and significant language on reforming the global financial system, but it failed to go beyond last year’s text in terms of phasing out fossil fuels. The uneven result had the conference being dubbed “a tale of two COPs.”
Billed as the “implementation COP” by the Egyptian presidency, the conference was the first to be hosted on African soil since 2016 in Marrakesh. This year’s conference presented a unique set of geopolitical headwinds, leading many to question what progress was actually possible. The war in Ukraine and runaway inflation have led to many nations doubling down on fossil fuels and backsliding on their climate pledges. This year’s host country has an abominable human rights record and threatened to undermine civil society’s presence at the conference.
The decision to establish a fund for loss and damage broke a 30-year deadlock on the issue, delivering a major victory for frontline communities in the Global South. Loss and damage refer to irreparable damages or irreversible losses from the adverse impacts of climate change. While loss and damage should be considered the third pillar of international climate policy, in addition to mitigation and adaptation, it has not been given equal weight in previous negotiations.Read more
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference is from Sunday, 6 November, until on Friday, 18 November.
Sam Goodman joins us live from COP27. He will give us an overview of promises, problems, and progress from this important conference.
This month we discuss climate change and environmental justice in Africa. A continent with a vast colonial legacy and suffering the brunt of climate change, Africa has also emerged as a leader in innovative solutions for renewable energy.